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Providing online opportunities for collaborative professional development and community building
Founded in 2008, this global learning community began a few months after Michael White’s death, with the vision of bringing together practitioners, teachers and students drawn to narrative practice and other collaborative approaches, to consult with each other, bring multiple voices into our teaching and learning, and learn about life experiences from people who seek our services. Reathoring Teaching offers the online Narrative Practice & Collaborative Inquiry Study Group, Vermont Training Events, and Online Learning Series.
To visit the REAUTHORING TEACHING website, please follow this link.
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THE NARRATIVE PRACTICE AND COLLABORATIVE INQUIRY STUDY GROUP
An island of belonging for those drawn to narrative practice and other collaborative approachesMany people, who are attracted to narrative ways of working, live and work far from opportunities for ongoing narrative training, professional discussion and support. Because of this they may find themselves feeling quite isolated in their professional lives. They may be surrounded by colleagues who do not understand narrative approaches, and may even face active hostility towards this way of working.
It is because of this kind of situation that the Narrative Practice and Collaborative Inquiry Study Group (NPCI) was set up by Peggy Sax, Ph.D. in Vermont USA. It is a private online forum where members can find each other and build a learning community that transcends geography, professional status, and other differences. The group brings together a worldwide group of psychologists, social workers, nurses, counsellors and other mental health and human service practitioners from around the world. At the moment, it includes members from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, South Africa, Latin America, Mexico, Europe, Siberia and Israel.
Since 2009, Narrative Practices Adelaide has been an enthusiastic supporter of the NPCI Study Group, due to our commitment to facilitating opportunities for community building and professional development among narrative practitioners. Participation in this study group is an integral part of the one year Certificate Course in Narrative Practice, run each year by Narrative Practices Adelaide. We are currently in our third year of online learning.
The Study Group enables participants to actively study developments in narrative practice and collaborative inquiry, to reflect on the growth of their own work, and to engage in shared projects. Members fold this commitment into active lives with the freedom to participate to the extent possible. The group is committed to creating a hospitable culture, with specific guidelines and agreements for respect, confidentiality, and copyright permission.
Peggy Sax, who maintains the forum, is also committed to building dialogue between narrative therapy, social construction, and postmodern practice in the field of human and social inquiry. This includes developing online and “on the ground” learning opportunities in partnership with Alliant International University and the Taos Institute in the United States. Membership of the NPCI Study Group provides members with opportunities to participate in these continuing education avenues, many of which are registered for professional continuing education credit in the United States.
Membership of the Study Group involves a yearly $100 USD fee, which gives access to the study group discussion forum, multi-media featuers and shared projects. For further information please visit http://www.reauthoringteaching.com.
What current members are saying: The Narrative Practice and Collaborative Inquiry Study Group aspires to be an online “island of belonging”. It is, as its name says, a collaborative endeavour. For this reason, an integral part of putting together the information on this page was asking current members what they would like people to know about the group. What follows comes directly from their responses. If you join the group, you will have access to these responses in full, and will be able to get to know the people who made them.
Sarah: British Columbia, Canada
For me this group is important as I live and work rurally, so it gives me an ongoing connection with people who have a sense of my preferred ways of working and thinking. I need that as, although this is quite clear to me most days, there are murky days where I can get quite muddled in problem talk and cultural discourses that are very hard to see my way out of on my own. I like that I can turn to this group for support and ideas. I can get this by putting myself out there and asking for it or by lurking in the background and reading of others' experiences and ways of working.
Another vital factor of this group for me is the witnessing aspect. This group allows for a great amount of sharing and witnessing of each other’s stories. There is amazing power in that. I often bring back to the people I am working with reflections from people in this group. Or I bring them stories of others from this group and they can be witnesses. It opens up huge space for this as a woman from BC can be powerfully touched by the story of a woman in Vermont and that might not have been possible any other way.
Mohammed: formerly from Tehran, Iran, now living in the USA.
The group has become a big part of my continuing pursuit of academic life and my personal life. I am not sure who coined the phrase "this Island of Belonging" but, I know I may have repeated it perhaps more than others as it does provide me with a conceptual place where I can engage in a type of discourse that I do not have the opportunity to engage in at the place I practice my craft. Here I read about a way of practicing psychotherapy that I keep hoping to be able to incorporate someday into my practice - when I grow up. Here I journey along with fellow travelers who too are dreaming of becoming liberated, inspiring the liberation of others and bringing about a new personhood; we tread on a path with a heart!
The kind of work that…group members share may well be frowned upon in the highly medicalised setting I practice in if I were to try them. Knowing about them helps me connect to my humanity and invokes a kind of courage to break out of the rigid practices that are dehumanizing and oppressive in nature. To be a witness to such expressions of humanity is inspiring. I am a different kind of therapist because here on this island I am supported and egged on to explore, and, as Michael would have said, inhabit my unique differences. This island for me is not only a place of belonging but also of becoming!
Bonnie: Toronto, Canada
I experience this group as a sounding board for questions and ideas. I also experience it as an influence in the on-going development of my professional identity. By putting my preferences into words, and reading the words of others, I gain clarity about what works and does not work for me in my practice. I read about new applications of narrative practice, and I pay more attention to what I am doing, with the thought of sharing the work with a group of interested others. It saves time and energy to be able to talk about the work I do, knowing that we have a shared language and base of understanding, a shared set of emerging and developing values and practices. It is a comfort at times, to move away from the diverse practices of my work peers to a place where we can celebrate the excitement of narrative work.
Martha: Colombia, Latin America, now living in California, USA
One of the things I want new people to know about this group is the approach to how it was created. Together we have co-creating a group that gives us a sense that there is always something else we can discover, engaging in ideas beyond what we think therapy should be. This group offers diverse roads to explore and relate. One time we might be consultants to each other, still other times we can go to a safe place, for instance we can retreat to a room called “I need a Witness” where we can go for support and strength against others who would like to see us fail in some way, who want to take away who we are and what we have. Other times we log in for inspiration to renew the spirit of our clinical work, giving and receiving encouragement and wisdom from the voices of each member to our work with clients. In this way we can become better people and better therapists. We have become an “island” gathering from many continents of the world. We will soon have the Spanish and Portuguese rooms growing and stronger……. With all these many possibilities, we are always re-discovering new options for the kind of work we envision.
Cate: Brisbane, Australia
This group was so critical for my last year, as I was an inter-state participant of the Narrative Practices Adelaide Certificate Course and was unable to connect with my fellow students for study group sessions or chats in coffee shops. This online community was a place where I could hear about how others 'doing' this work spoke about their queries, inspirations and ponderings. My confidence and self-belief has grown knowing these amazing people across the world and finding a place to connect with others who see the world in a similar fashion to my own ideas. It was like finding a professional 'home'. I continue to see this community as a place that sustains my learning of narrative ways, reconnects me to themes if I feel wayward and extends my ideas and skills if I'm looking for challenge or ways to step it up
I would love to also share the importance I found in taking the ideas we were learning about in workshops and in readings and actually finding something to articulate out of these in the context of my practice and experiences. This was where I really started to apply my knowledge and the verbal conversations we were having and it made me move past a position of 'taking on-board ideas' or 'evaluating a perspective of work' to consciously thinking about what this means for my practice, my organisation, my experiences in life and how will this influence my actions. It made the value of my professional development thicken from 'hearing' about ideas to applying and weaving skills and knowledge into my daily interactions with people who consult our service and my co-workers
I now feel more able to act on the important parts of my practice and find points of reflection that mean I can move past 'frustrations', 'politics' and behaviours I find challenging in myself and others, and hopefully be more accountable to the principles I value and open to the values of others.
ONLINE LEARNING SERIES
Opportunities to participate in online courses registered for professional continuing education credit in the United StatesThe Re-authoring Teaching Online Learning Series offers courses in narrative therapy for practitioners, students and teachers, ranging from key concepts to new developments. Together with Maggie Carey, Rob Hall and Shona Russell, we are collaboratively designing online courses that draw from the best of teaching experiences and everyday practices as narrative practitioners. The first two courses will be: 1- Narrative Therapy: Foundations and Key Concepts; 2- Extending Narrative Therapy.
Collaborative Learning Series: Peggy Sax, who maintains the NPCI Study Group forum, is also committed to building dialogue between narrative therapy, social construction, and postmodern practice in the field of human and social inquiry. In partnership with the Taos Institute, she is currently developing joint collaborative online courses. Honoring Our Legacy, the first joint collaborative project in this Learning Series, is a tribute to five cherished family therapist mentors. The course will highlight specific contributions, in text and recordings, by Michael White as well as Tom Andersen, Gianfranco Cecchin, Harry Goolishian and Lynn Hoffman.
Reauthoring Teaching and The Taos Institute.
The courses are not yet finalised, but if you follow this link you will see a "countdown clock" telling you exactly when they will come online.
For further information about Narrative Practice & Collaborative Inquiry Study Group events, please sign up for the Email Newsletter.
Peggy Sax: Founder and Coordinator of Reauthoring Teaching and the Narrative Practice and Collaborative Inquiry Study Group (NPCI)
Peggy Sax, Ph.D. is actively involved in the study of dialogic and narrative approaches through therapeutic conversations, teaching activities and online learning communities. She is currently in independent practice in Middlebury, Vermont USA as a licensed psychologist, consultant, workshop presenter and teacher. First and foremost, Peggy is a practitioner. Her work as a teacher, consultant and online study group host is imbued with learning from firsthand experiences as a family therapist in her small town New England community.
Peggy’s fascination with online learning communities led to the book, Re-authoring Teaching: Creating a Collaboratory, and the companion website: Re-authoring Teaching. She began the online “Narrative Practice and Collaborative Inquiry (NPCI) Study Group" a few months after Michael White's death, in an effort to create "an island of belonging" for people drawn to narrative practice and other collaborative approaches, and to build a learning community that transcends geography, professional status, and other differences.
Peggy is the author of several articles:
- “Narrative therapy and family support: Strengthening the mother's voice in working with families with infants and toddlers" (2000)
in David Nylund & Craig Smith (editors), Narrative Therapies with Children and Adolescents (pp. 111-146). Guildford Press: NY.
- “It takes an audience to solve a problem: Teaching narrative therapy online” (2003), New Zealand Social Work Review, Vol. XV, No. 4, pp. 21-29.
- “Developing stories of identity as reflective practitioners” (2006), Journal of Systemic Therapies, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 59-72.
- “Finding common ground: Parents speak out about family centered practices” (2007), Journal of Systemic Therapies, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 72-90.
- "Reclaiming Community out of Catastrophe: Communal practices that build on naturally sustaining webs" (2012), Journal of Systemic Therapies(in press).
You can read more about Peggy on the Taos Institute website here.